“King Richard” just barely hits it over the net


Art courtesy of King Richard

Hannah Owens Pierre, Section Editor

Zephyrus Arts and Entertainment Editor Hannah Owens Pierre examines each Oscar Best Picture nominee in a countdown to the awards ceremony on March 27

Will Smith is an actor, rapper, and film producer extraordinaire—or is he? Throughout his acting career, Smith has faced criticism from those who believe he is only capable of playing one character—himself. In “King Richard,” Smith attempts to break away from that reputation by becoming Richard Williams, father of tennis superstars Venus and Serena Williams, to marginal success. 

“King Richard” is a story you have likely seen before. From the first five minutes of the film, it is clear what director Reinaldo Green is going for. This is the average, run-of-the-mill biopic, eerily similar to Smith’s earlier “The Pursuit of Happyness” in style and pace. Right off the bat, the movie guarantees that you will feel good when the credits roll. There will be ups and downs, yes, and certainly many tears, but you can count on a smile and an inspirational feeling when whatever Best Original Song nominee about “rising up” comes on.

Sure enough, it succeeds. “King Richard” does indeed leave you with a warm feeling in your heart, even if it isn’t particularly memorable.

That doesn’t mean it isn’t worth watching, though. Different films cater to different audiences for different purposes. And for what it is, Smith’s film isn’t half bad. 

It also isn’t entirely unoriginal. “King Richard” does make a bold decision, one that feels highly unusual, to focus the movie on the man who created the detailed plan for his daughters’ tennis superstardom, rather than the daughters themselves. Williams has an interesting story. He raised his children with the goal of having them become champions at tennis and spent the early years of their life priming them on a disheveled court in Compton, all while trying to find a national coach for the girls. His ambitions are admirable, if not sometimes overwhelming. 

The film also gives compelling background on Williams’ family dynamics. As Venus begins to succeed in the sport, reaching her breakthrough at a national tournament, Serena struggles with living in the shadows of her sister’s fame. 

Probably the most satisfying aspect of the film is the execution of sports-driven scenes. The tension of these movements is captivating. It’s almost like watching the match from the stands, feeling the energy of the crowd around you. 

When all is said and done, “King Richard” is a charming film that doesn’t have much to offer that you haven’t seen before. If you have a free hour and a half to waste, you won’t be disappointed. But if you haven’t already seen the movie, you won’t be missing much.